A few years ago, Rick Warren tweeted to about 130,000 people “I challenge any church in America to match the spiritual maturity, godliness & commitment of any 500 members of Saddleback church.” Interesting claim. I read that thinking it’s blatant unrestrained pride, with a side order of gutsy, but it actually reveals an unfortunate truth: Is this not a dominant, sometimes silent, mentality in millions of churchgoers in the world today?
I applaud Warren’s honesty, while I hate the arrogance he represents. I’ve seen it everywhere I’ve gone in my life, but my greatest repulse is that I’ve seen it in myself. I thought everyone around me needed to change when it was me that needed it most. I was God in my own eyes, above reproach, and everyone’s corrector, and since I “was God,” my relationship with the actual God was pathetic. Since my eyes have been opened to my sin, there have been so many people I’ve had to seek forgiveness from. It’s still a daily struggle to make sure I’m far from pride and close to lowliness, a place of entire dependence on God.
That said, I despise and am disgusted with the demonization of people who leave one church for another. 90% of the time they’re not leaving because of offenses or because they’ve fallen away. They are not disloyal, and to assume so is to place precedence of institution/establishment over God. The notion that one church is better than the other is tragic. It brings with it superiority, hierarchy, and judgment and it limits your ability to receive wisdom from the Christ in others that are not associated directly with who you classify as “best.” There are such rich teachings in the treasure chest of wisdom in the leaders and preachers of many local ministries, but it remains undiscovered to the judgmental mind, the prideful heart.
Christ isn’t coming back for YOUR church, but for THE church.
Granted, there are the must have’s like sound doctrine, delivery of the gospel, conversion, evangelism, membership, discipline, discipleship, and leadership. Of course there are times where division is necessary, such as when unbiblical things are accepted or taught. And it’s ok to have differing opinions and tastes on how contemporary or hardcore the worship is, or the dress style, but are we divisive with others despite our mutual Major focus?
Historical, and I’m certain, modern day battle and war strategy involves analyzing your enemy, investigating their tactics and capabilities. Somewhere in the middle of all this you’ll find discussion of weak points, and even the economical perspective: How can I defeat my enemy without lifting a finger? This is the sole purpose nations seek positive global relations with other nations that have a common bone to pick. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Satan is smart, and he knows his resources have limited to no effect on a force as great as the Lord’s. He’s been around for far longer than you or I and has utilized every second of his time strategizing against God and His people. I believe that the existence of so many denominations and even animosity between similar denominations is an intentional system of attack authored by the devil. Why? Because we lose focus of expanding God’s kingdom when we’re too busy building our own.
None of us are 100% correct. We absolutely strive to represent God’s Word the best way we’re able, but especially given our prideful tendencies, none of us should assume omniscience. None of our labeled and established points of view are sitting on the throne, therefore reducing them to be subject to correction. Romans 3:4 says “Let God be true, and every man a liar,” indicating God’s perfect wisdom ate our collective wisdom for breakfast 6,000 years ago.
Paul tells us “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind… Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Romans 14:4-5, 10)
Also, “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all…to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…so than we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4: 4-6, 12-14)
I say this with compassion because I’ve been a struggler of this in past times. If you find it difficult in your heart to love others and to display humility, I would question your love for Christ. If your heart is currently hardened to what you’re reading, I would question the intent of your churchgoing experience. Is this a segregated, cliqued social club or a group of people dedicated to the cause of Christ? Are we here based upon the common interest that we’re better than everyone else, standing high on the same mountain, or because we all realize we need a Jesus seeking community, a militant salvation army, if we’re going to have a chance at reaching the half million unchurched people in our backyard?
Let’s unite for the common cause of Christ, because He is our perfect righteousness, the reason we live, and the lover of all of our souls. Lets unite for the existence of a common enemy, because divided we’re consumed with hate, losing sight of our purpose, and defeated.